New York Magazine just published a history of Genius that brings everyone following the company up to date.
In this reporter’s opinion, Genius is the Brooklyn company to watch in 2015. That said, if you’ve been following it closely, much of the first part of the story is rehashing what we all already know. It provides some good context and details that haven’t come out before, making the case that the founders are potheads-aping-bros (rather than true bros) and illustrating how important ousted founder Mahbod Moghadam was to the firm’s success. Still, if you’re in a hurry and know the story, feel free to skip down to where it says, “Among the many tasks facing a tech company…”
From there, you’ll learn:
- The word (“tate”) that the team hopes to make as relevant as “tweet”
- That it may be the final act in Ilan Zechory and Tom Lehman’s friendship with Moghadam
- That Genius may have the boldest, make-or-break business model that any company has ever not-quite-really-talked-about:
Genius is, as start-up argot goes, “pre-revenue.” The company does not sell ads, a business model that would hardly justify a $40 million investment. Though there are a number of potential revenue streams—premium accounts, licensing deals, brand collaborations—the company’s overall plan is to simply become so integral to the functioning of online life that someone will pay something for it.
Perhaps what’s most important about this piece is simply that it’s in New York Magazine.
Genius is a startup that, in part, makes itself compelling just by having a compelling story of underdog excess and visionary redemption (maybe), one that journalists are telling and retelling because the more it gets told, the more people are interested. We’ve read pretty much all the Genius bios and this one is probably the best so far. Plus, it’s appearing in a general interest magazine rather than a tech site or even a business site.
Notably, NYMag annotated the story, but lightly — and they didn’t use Genius to do it.